When a child is suddenly thrust into the world of foster care, he or she is rarely given much more than a black plastic garbage bag to gather up their paltry worldly belongings before being removed from their home into a scary new world of uncertainty. The men and women of the community who work every day to make a difference in people’s lives by finding the best home for them are venturing into another season of their renowned Suitcases for Kids program benefiting foster children to help resolve that issue.
The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors is inviting you and I to join the community support for the 14th Annual Suitcases For Kids program benefiting foster children. Realtors will be collecting donations now through September 30th to help foster children under the supervision of the Berrien, Cass and Van Buren County Departments of Human Services.
Becoming a foster kid and staying in foster care is a sad and lonely time for any child. Among the striking facts that Realtors have learned is that image of most children in foster care carrying all of their belongings in black garbage bags when moved to foster care and each child averages seven moves while in foster care. The local association of Realtors believe wholeheartedly in Suitcases For Kids and would like to invite everyong to help make the transition for foster kids a little easier. It takes so little to make an impact.
All items donated must be new; no used items can be accepted. Items that foster kids need include new small duffle bags or backpacks. For clothing and personal healthcare, items like diapers/pull ups (all sizes) underwear & t-shirts (all sizes), pajamas/socks (all sizes), wet wipes, shampoo, soaps, sanitary items, combs and brushes, deodorant, toothpaste are especially needed. Often foster kids will miss birthday, graduation, and other celebrations so gifts of cards, watches, handheld video games, cologne, and aftershave can bring a smile.
Donations can be dropped off at any of the 27 Real Estate offices listed below or at the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Office on 3123 Lake Shore Drive just south of Hilltop Road.
- Century 21 Affiliated at 510 Williams St in South Haven
- Berkshire Hathaway Home Service at 68827 M-62 S in Edwardsburg
- Cressy & Everett at 26251 US 12 in Edwardsburg
- Coldwell Banker RWG at 69001 M-62 Ste. D in Edwardsburg
- BHHS Koenigh Rubloff, N.B. at 30 W. Buffalo in New Buffalo
- Keller Williams Realty at 207 B. North Whittaker St. in New Buffalo
- Coldwell Banker Res. Brokerage at 10 N. Whittaker St. in New Buffalo
- @Properties at 225 N. Whittaker St in New Buffalo
- RE/MAX Modern Realty at 603 E. Main St. in Niles
- Integrity R.E. Professionals at 1501 S. 11th St. in Niles
- Cressy & Everett at 1439 Oak in Niles
- Listing Leaders at 256 E Front St in Buchanan
- Nest Realty at 2307 S. 11th St. in Niles
- United Federal Credit Union at 808 E Front S in Buchanan
- United Federal Credit Union at 724 E Napier Ave in Benton Harbor
- Attila Real Estate, St. Joseph at 3665 S. Lakeshore Dr. in St. Joseph
- Coldwell Banker Anchor S. J. at 2409 Lakeshore Dr. in St. Joseph
- Keller Williams Realty at 111 Main St./Ste. B in Joseph
- Re/MAX by the Lake at 805 Van Brunt Ave in Joseph
- Realty Executives Pro Brokers at 815 Main St. in St. Joseph
- New Seasons Real Estate at 2874 Niles Rd. in St. Joseph
- @properties Harbor Country S. J. at 3399 S. Lakeshore Dr. in St. Joseph
- Cressy & Everett at 3687 Lakeshore Dr in St. Joseph
- Core Real Estate at 5750 James Dr. in Stevensville
- Jaqua REALTORS at 4233 Red Arrow Hwy. in Stevensville
- Honor Credit Union at 5960 Cleveland Ave in Stevensville
- Coldwell Banker Advantage at 4333 Red Arrow Hwy. in Stevensville
“Realtors Do Make THE Difference” is the motto for the local association and they are hoping you will make a difference too, by donating to Suitcases For Kids. Last year the group raised over $6,000 in cash and collected numerous new backpacks and personal items for foster kids under the supervision of the Michigan Department of Human Services in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties.
If you have any questions, you can call Kathy Pallas at the Association office at (269) 983-6375.
Suitcases For Kids was actually started in 1995 by a 10 year-old, Aubyn Burnside, after learning that the average child in foster care moves three to four times and traditionally carries his/her personal belonging form home to home in black garbage bags. The resulting nonprofit international program has spread throughout the U.S. and into nine foreign countries.
Aubyn’s story has been featured in eight books including Keeping President Clinton’s Five-Point Promise to Children, Extraordinary Girls, Business of the Heart: How Everyday Americans Are Changing the World, and What Do You Stand For? A Kid’s Guide to Character. Segments about Suitcases For Kids have appeared on public television shows.
The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of Realtors and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties. The Association can be contacted at 269-983-6375 or through their website at www.swmar.com.